Emma Hart Willard

Pupils, by having their understanding cultivated, their reasoning powers developed and strengthened, may be expected to act more from the dictates of reason, and less from those of fashion and caprice. With an expanded mind, they would extend their views to futurity.

A Plan for Improving Female Education, 1819

Deepening Our Commitment to Academic Excellence


We see a school enhancing its leadership in secondary education.  We see more opportunities for students to stretch themselves intellectually, to gain first-hand experience in different cultures and communities, to take more ownership of their education. We see teachers gaining more time, space, and funding to develop new courses and programs, to seek inspiration from new sources, and to bring new research and experience to campus.

List of 4 items.

  • Center for Teaching and Learning

    Led by a highly qualified director, the Center for Teaching and Learning will explore new pedagogies and partnerships; create a comprehensive professional development program; build connections between courses and disciplines; test, adapt, and apply new technologies; and initiate collaborations with peer schools and professional organizations. This will serve as a powerful retention tool to build community and a sense of belonging for educators, and will support the faculty who are the heart of our academic enterprise.
  • Educational Innovation Fund

    This endowed fund will invigorate standard teaching practices, inspire new approaches, and improve student learning. It will support teachers as they integrate current research in girls’ education; offer a reduced course load as an incentive to explore new projects and programs; and serve as a recruitment tool for new faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching abilities and who will contribute to our culture of innovation.
  • Experiential Learning and Travel Program

    We will increase the number of opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience, including the expansion of our life-changing travel program. The benefits are clear and compelling: deeper learning; profound engagement with the wider world; and the cultivation of empathy, courage, and independence.
  • Endowment for Programs and Faculty

    The quality of our education depends on the quality of our teachers. To attract, inspire, and nurture the finest faculty, we need robust endowed funding to ensure that they get the financial, personal, and professional support they deserve.

Increasing Affordability and Access


We see an endowment for financial aid that gives us the freedom to offer an Emma Willard education to the most deserving students. We see our Admissions Office continuing to bring brilliantly diverse classes of students to campus every year. We see Emma Willard living its values, creating a source of financial aid funding that doesn’t depend on our annual budget. We see a continued and careful deceleration of tuition increases in order to ensure affordability for all.

Wendy Graham ’85, Campaign Co-Chair

Affordability and access are the foundation for our next 200 years. They give us an even greater sense of openness and inclusion. They let us reach students who may have never heard of Emma Willard. They give us new generations of students from around the world—students who come to belong here not because of their means but because of their talent.

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  • Financial Aid

    Emma Hart Willard founded our school to serve the underserved, to expand access to an outstanding education. Our financial aid program is an extension of that mission. Generations of alumnae, parents, and friends have strengthened our legacy through endowment gifts to financial aid.

    We are positioned to attract the brightest students. Applications for admission continue to set records and our acceptance rate is among the best of our peers. We have a generous financial aid program that provides nearly $6 million in need-based grants to 
    nearly 45% of our students. We work to make the admissions process equitable by removing fees for an Emma Willard application, making test scores optional, and hosting virtual events and interviews. 

    Yet we struggle to meet the needs of many of our families. Many of our peer schools have more comprehensive admission and aid programs and we draw the majority of our aid from our budget, not from endowed funds. 

    We will endow named scholarship funds to support outstanding students with high financial need, including domestic boarding students and students from the Capital Region. We will enhance programs that remove barriers to visiting and applying to Emma Willard. We believe these enhancements are the best way to sustain our support for high-achieving, hard-working students, regardless of their circumstances.

Advancing the Arts


We see a contemporary home for the arts, a rejuvenated Alumnae Chapel at the heart of campus, and programming as imaginative and ambitious as our students and faculty. We see a landmark project that elevates our vigorous creative culture, which includes more than 300 students who engage in arts programming every year, more than thirty courses in the arts, and more than fifteen musical, dance, and theatrical student ensembles. Thanks to an unprecedented gift from Alice Dodge Wallace ’38, this vision is already coming to life.

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  • Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts

    Inspired by a lead gift from Alice Dodge Wallace ’38, we’ll maintain the striking façade of Alumnae Chapel, as well as the chapel’s beloved pipe organ. Guided by designs from the renowned firm of Ann Beha Architects, we’ll give the chapel’s interior a fresh sense of purpose and build exciting new spaces in the landscape behind it. The chapel will include a 450-seat concert hall for performances and community gatherings, and a new stage large enough to accommodate full choir and orchestral groups. New construction will include rehearsal rooms, faculty offices, two new dance studios, an exhibition space, and a studio theatre. The result: an integrated, innovative, sustainable center for the arts—and a welcoming gathering space for the entire Emma Willard community.
  • Endowment for Arts Programs and Faculty

    New spaces open up new opportunities. With endowed funding for the arts, we’ll bring more artists and performers to campus, give students the ability to attend regional and national art exhibitions and performances, create new experiential learning opportunities, establish fellowships and artist-in-residence programs, and ensure that every student has full access to our community’s astonishing creative work.

Debra Spiro-Allen, DM - Arts Department Chair, Director of Vocal Music, Julia Howard Bush Instructor in Music

The arts connect us to our humanity. They connect us in the studio, in rehearsal, in performance. They connect generations of Emma students—magically—in Revels. They connect us to Emma Hart Willard’s vision: a school where students find their voice.

Investing in Our Campus


We see a robust endowment that supports a national treasure. Our buildings have gravity and grace, weight and wit, majestic spaces and calming nooks, exquisite carpentry and enduring stonework. To be here is to feel rooted in history—and elevated by a sense of possibility. This extraordinary home requires extraordinary care. We see the labor and love that maintain our proud façades and keep our infrastructure modern and secure.

Beatrice G.C. ’22

Our campus makes me feel in awe of the opportunities I have, to realize that this is the place I get to live and learn. And it makes me appreciate even the small things much more, to experience them within this beautiful place.

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  • Preservation of Historic Structures

    Each of our 23 buildings on Mount Ida is unique and full of character; each requires special attention and upkeep to preserve its brilliance and historic distinction. We’ll establish an endowed fund for campus preservation, allowing us to attend to pressing needs, update core facilities, and plan for continual maintenance that meets the school’s high standards. Our masonry alone is a significant—and essential—need. We must also maintain the exceptional woodworking in our dorms, hallways, entryways, and gathering spaces. With a strong physical foundation, our programs can meet the needs of today’s students and faculty—and match their future ambitions.
  • Reimagining and Modernizing Our Facilities

    Education is always evolving; our academic spaces must evolve with it. We’ll continue to upgrade classrooms, incorporating cutting-edge technology for teaching and learning. We’ll update our makerspace and give our growing robotics club their own home. We’ll reinvigorate our shared arts and library spaces, paying special attention to Dietel Library as our digital research needs grow. We’ll identify and rehabilitate a space dedicated to cultivating mindfulness, exploring spirituality, and enriching spiritual life. We’ll ensure that our major renovations and new facilities are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing accommodations for students of all abilities.

Strengthening Our Community


We see new and enhanced programs that allow our community—including students from 38 countries and 21 states—to flourish. We see new ways to apply ideals that have defined Emma Willard for generations. We see a school that continues to strike an inspiring balance between two needs: individual development and collective health.

List of 4 items.

  • Student Wellness and Resilience Center

    We’re excited to create a new physical and virtual campus resource: The Student Wellness and Resilience Center. The center combines our centuries of experience with the most current research on adolescent development to address a profound need, on campus and beyond. We’ll expand our mental health programming, bolster our counseling and nursing services, and provide adult members of our community with the training and skills to help build resilience and wellbeing in all facets of the student experience, including residential and student life. A partnership with a research university will help develop our expertise as a leader in the field of student wellness.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs

    Education flourishes in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. We will endow the position of Head of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, a role that inspires colleagues at all levels to help Emma Willard meaningfully serve our ever more diverse community. We’ll also establish a new speaker series that brings leading thinkers and practitioners to campus; develop immersive intercultural experiences for students, on and off campus; and offer ongoing professional development and training for faculty and staff.
  • Enhanced Residential Life Program

    Our residential faculty is integral to the student experience; our dorms are in many ways Emma Willard’s heartbeat. 
    Our residential life program deserves a comprehensive update, with events, workshops, and activities that link living and learning, celebrate a diverse and inclusive community, and apply the school’s mission around the clock.
  • Faculty Housing

    Faculty engage in the residential life of the community in ways that extend beyond a traditional classroom role. In their positions as role models, faculty embrace opportunities to connect with boarding students after school and on weekends. These are enriching parts of their roles as educators in the community. To meet the growing demand and interests of faculty, we’ll expand our on-campus housing stock by 10–12 homes and develop a regular renovation and maintenance cycle for new and existing faculty housing.

Rowan L-M. '22

The Emma community is truly special. It’s genuine, it’s warm, it’s electric. There’s such a strong feeling of belonging—of people embracing you for exactly who you are.

Sustaining Our School


We see more donors and more gifts to the Emma Fund—and more impact. We see the steady impact of the Emma Fund on the school’s operating budget, and as a vital source of institutional strength. We see an Emma Fund that serves as a stabilizing force to meet the needs of our operating budget—and an engine of opportunity. 

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  • The Emma Fund

    The Emma Fund allows every member of our community to make a significant impact on the life of the school, from athletics to academics, service learning to financial aid, campus preservation to resources for teaching and residential faculty. Every unrestricted gift shows the school—and the world—that Emma Willard matters. Every record year of giving broadens our horizon. 
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